A Helping Hand for those in need
Would you like to do a little something to help the homeless or those in need? Drive around any city these days and you can’t help but notice how many people there are in need of help. Read the paper or watch the news and you grow more aware that plenty of them are families who for one reason or another are homeless or barely getting by.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes the numbers overwhelm me. I can’t fix it. Nor can I help everyone. But I can do something.
So this year to I’m making a list of some gifts I can purchase that will hopefully brighten up someone’s day. Care to join me? I’ve budgeted an amount, not that much, but I’m thinking of ways I can make it stretch. During this coming year, the plan is to start collecting little things and making others all year long so by Christmas there will be enough for plenty of stockings or bags.
Christmas isn’t the only time they could use some help. Imagine what a difference we could make if we each set aside even $5.00 a month to help someone else. Many of us can do much more.
Whom to help is limitless, as is where to find them. There are many people who don’t have any family for Christmas or any time. I see it personally at the home where my mother lives. Senior residences or nursing homes are one option. There are many shelters who can point you toward families who are in need, to children who will go without. Churches as well can give you suggestions. There are women with children escaping abuse. I’m sure you can think of too many others. It’s hard to make a list since so many are local, but ask around if you have trouble finding any. They are everywhere.
This year I’ve sewn some Christmas stockings out of fun Christmas fabric. Next year I might try to sew little tote bags instead. Both are so fast and easy to make and quite fun to fill. Here are some inexpensive items I’ve thought of to brighten their days, just to get you started. You’ll have your own ideas. Try to think what you would enjoy receiving if you were in their place. I bet you can grow this list easily!
Make It Yourself
We all have a skill–put it to good use
So many gift ideas that would comfort and please someone in need can easily be made at home. There must be a lot of hobbies men can put to use as well. Seamstresses, knitters, crocheters, think of the options! Many of these would be great for kids to be involved in too. How uplifting for them to make something for someone.
Could You Make These?
- Sew Christmas stockings to fill.
- What could be sweeter than a home sewn quilt or a knitted throw? So inexpensive to make if you have a little time. Remnants of fabric can be used too.
- Can you knit scarves? Hats? Mittens?
- Build a toy, perhaps? A little wooden airplane? A boat? Who knows what you woodworkers are capable of accomplishing.
- Sew a stuffed animal–any age finds them irresistible.
- Paint a pet rock or stone for a child to keep in a pocket.
- Drill a little hole in a shell, a coin, or anything that would make a cute necklace or charm. You could even put it on a cord of some sort to wear.
- Can you make jewelry? Bead, earrings, bands, anything like that is a hit with adults and kids alike.
- It isn’t just for Christmas. You could sew a cute heart and fill it for Valentines, and Easter egg for Easter.
- Cook something! Make a pasta dinner, tacos, pigs in a blanket!
- Bake something! Cookies brighten any day, as do brownies, cupcakes, pies, fudge.
- Sew a little carry all bag for their ‘stuff,’ then fill it. You can even use fabric scraps.
Warm Them Up
Everything is a little better when you are comfortable
Here are a few ideas under the category of something for everyone. Whether homeless, living on the street or in a shelter, or just short on funds for extras, these items will come in handy. I love winter and the cold weather that comes with it, but that is because I can add a layer or a jacket and get warm. It isn’t any fun when you are freezing!
One thing always seems to top my list as a gift everyone needs. I confess to a weakness for blankets or throws. I have one on my lap right now actually. It feels so cozy to have something soft and warm to snuggle under. I can picture anyone in need of comfort loving the feel of a new blanket. Kids included–they love a blanket to hold on to, no matter what the age. Amazon has a huge selection, but you can find even less expensive throws at your local big store. Some catalogs sell them very reasonably too.
And head and hand warmers are not just cozy, but in some areas essential. If you can knit or crochet, you could probably even make a bunch of these in time for Christmas. They wouldn’t take very much yarn, right?
Something Warm for Snuggling
Everyone needs one of these.
You can find fleece throws in nearly every store at nearly every price. I like the slightly heavier versions at least 50″ by 60,” bigger if available. During winter especially, the warmer the better.
A Blanket is Always a Comfort
These are so handy to anyone. Lightweight, yet an extra layer or warmth. This is an inexpensive one, in case you want to buy multiples. There are hundreds of choices though, for girls, boys, men and women. Lots of sizes and weights too. Or you may prefer to get a regular sized blanket.
A Blanket, Twin Size
A twin size blanket is another wonderful option. It provides more length to cover them. Even the color of this one is a good choice. Fun, good for any age, and easy to spot.
Head and Hand Warmers
Even warm climates often have cold nights.
They say we lose a lot of our body heat from our heads. So a cap is a good and inexpensive option that everyone can use. And when my hands are cold it feels like my whole body is chilly, so how about some gloves or mittens? These are so reasonable in price too. If you check out Amazon, they have so many options for styles and colors. Etsy has a lot to offer as well.
A Long Beanie Cap
Choose from plenty of colors for this sweater knit cap. Extra long for extra warmth!
A Cute Beanie Hat to Hold That Hair
Isn’t this one adorable? Can you crochet? If not, get one of these.
The Gift of Time
The sweetest gift you may give is the gift of your time. Do you have a few hours to help? It’s a wonderful blessing for your children as well as yourself.
At the food bank, a shelter, at locations serving holiday dinners. They can all use extra hands this time of year.
Gloves for Guys and Girls
Comfy fleece is so toasty for hands too!
Little Ideas that Cause Smiles
And who doesn’t love a smile.
I could go into any store at this moment and find a hundred more ideas that would be welcome in a Christmas stocking. And I bet you could come up with another totally different batch. Hopefully these will inspire you to look around and see what you can do.
Odds and Ends to Add
- Chocolate! Or other candy, mints, gum.
- Snack packs of nuts, fruit, chips, cookies.
- Other small packaged dessert items.
- Fresh fruit, preferably a type that lasts awhile.
- Pick up some $5 gift certificates to local fast food stops. McDonalds, Taco Bell, whatever is available in your area.
- For a special treat, what about a gift certificate for a coffee? Starbucks, Dutch Brothers, whatever is local to your area.
- For another version of a special treat, how about a certificate for an ice cream or a frozen yogurt?
- Actually a little gift card to any drug store or grocery store can be invaluable.
- A gas card if they have a vehicle.
- Books! Pick up a few from Amazon or a used book store. Amazon has lots of ‘previously read’ selections too. Both offer choices for all ages.
- Crayons and coloring books for kids are always a hit and provide hours of fun.
- Kids of all ages love bubbles!
- Stop in a dollar store and stock up on a variety of fun stuff for all ages.
- Any food items that will keep, preferably without refrigeration.
- A flashlight and batteries. Always handy to have for any age.
- A little stuffed animal or toy for a child to hold on to.
Toast Their Toes
Don’t get cold feet.
If heads and hands get cold, the feet surely do too. Inside, outside, cold or even hot, it is so uncomfortable and unsettling to have cold extremities! So put socks on the top of your list! It’s always a pleasure to have a new pair and worse case, it may be the only pair they have. In better circumstances it’s an extra pair they can wear at the same time as another or until laundry day. So much of what a person needs depends on how tough things are. I know you can picture what I mean. Get a couple of pairs.
You can find great deals on adorable socks are most stores. Here are just a few to spark your imagination. I love the Dr. Scholl’s for seniors–they have looser weave tops that don’t get so tight with leg swelling. Seniors and kids both love slipper socks. If a person is outdoors a lot, I’d suggest the moisture wicking or warm wool variety. Whatever style, they are always needed!
Socks and Slipper Socks – These ought to do the trick!
Moisture wicking can be so important if outdoors a lot. Excellent price for a. three pack.
Great Socks for Circulation
My favorite for seniors or anyone who deals with legs that swell. So comfortable!
Add some personal care necessities to their stockings.
Depending who you are gifting, and their circumstances, there are tons of things you can add to their stockings to fill them up. Again, the ideas are nearly endless, so it depends on your budget and your imagination. Here are some of the favorites I like to stash in.
For Health and Cleanliness
- A new hairbrush or comb.
- Little containers of shampoo and conditioner.
- Hair clips, headbands, or ties for pony tails. They make some darling ones for kids!
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Again, they make cute, fun ones for kids.
- Razors, shave cream, and aftershave for the gentlemen.
- Lotions, lotions, lotions! For face, hands, body. A high SPF wouldn’t hurt.
- Do you travel much? Save the little shampoos and soaps hotels provide. They would be perfect for a stocking.
- Hand sanitizers. Bath and body works has little bottles in sweet scents that are quite inexpensive.
- Lip gloss, nail polish, powder for teens or adults.
- Lip balm, Chapstick or other products for dry lips. It’s something anyone can use any time of year.
- Wipes, also handy for any age.
- Soft snacks in case of bad teeth.
- Sunscreen, or lotion with it. Essential for bright days any time of year.
What Can We Do?
Anything is a start.
My goal is to make or buy some things each month. Even a $10 budget spent at a dollar or discount store can go far to help someone by the end of the year. If you sew, knit or crochet, how about making a hat each month. Are you a Woodworker? A toy each month would brighten a child’s holiday.
It’s seems a little thing. It won’t cost that much, won’t take that much time, won’t change much. But if it cheers a few hours in someone’s life, that makes it worthwhile to me. I’d like to imagine it might even give someone hope. It’s sweet to think how many smiles we could generate if you decide to do it too.
I find it way too easy to get caught up in the Christmas To Do List. Shopping, Christmas cards, holiday parties, wrapping (is there an end to the wrapping), baking, cooking, family gatherings, more shopping, more wrapping. The meaning and the joy of Christmas can get lost with all that needs to be done.
Yet when I drop off these gifts, it will be a delight for me as well as the recipient. It will put things back in perspective, at least somewhat. It doesn’t even matter if I see them open the presents. It actually makes me feel good to do it anonymously. It’s about them, not me. Just knowing someone will have presents–someone who might not have had any–is the gift I receive.
Make Your Own!
Stockings are so easy to make! As you can see in the pictures below, I use a quilted Christmas fabric and cut two for front and back. Stitch on a cuff, a pocket, a toe, sew together inside out, and you have an adorable stocking that can last for years. Trim with rick rack, ribbon or a cut out if you choose. You can use colored glue, letters or sequins to sew on a name as well.